Saturday Morning SEAT

Tackling Saturday morning sport just got a bit easier, thanks to SEAT’s new seven-seat Tarraco, with extra space but not to the detriment of pace. Just don’t forget the halftime oranges…

Do they even play rugby in Spain? It certainly doesn’t appear to have much impact on the Iberian Peninsula.

Still, the Saturday morning sprint to the sports field is probably a shared universal experience; the shape of the ball at the centre of the action is irrelevant.

The ingredients of that Saturday morning shuffle are probably the same, whether you’re in Barcelona or Blenheim.

There’s the packing of the gear bag, the clunking together of boots to knock off the worst of the mud from training (I mean, whose idea was it to train on a Friday night anyway?). There’s the segmenting of oranges, which will be ravenously consumed at half time by kids who turn their noses up at fruit for much of the rest of the week, and of course there’s the eternal search for the mouthguard that your junior champion was one hundred percent certain was in the gear bag just last night…

Add a bit of carpooling into the equation – or ferrying multiple offspring to multiple games in multiple locations – and the idea of a tranquil start to the weekend seems like a fairy tale from some distant past-life to parents of budding sports stars.

For the last couple of weekends of the 2019 junior club rugby season, I decided to road test SEAT’s new full-size seven-seater SUV, the Tarraco.

Rugby Boots SEAT

No mercy for the 'new car smell' here, with wet rugby boots abandoned at will.

While the brand remains relatively new in our part of the world, SEAT has been getting plenty of runs on the board here thanks chiefly to the Ateca mid-sized SUV. The company has been building cars in Spain since the 1950s (it was bought from the Spanish Government by the Volkswagen Group in 1986), but aside from MPV-style models, this is SEAT’s first fully-fledged seven-seater SUV. As to be expected, it builds on platforms available to the wider Volkswagen Group, so even before you hop in, it comes with plenty of pedigree; think Tiguan and Q7.

The Tarraco is a vehicle which SEAT has been waiting for. And so have I; with two future All Blacks (well, you have to hope don’t you?) needing transport to games in two disparate locations, plus another teammate to collect along the way, I’m all about convenience and comfort this morning.

This late-winter Saturday might have dawned crisp and clear, but there’s plenty of mud about after a wet few weeks and, between the four of us, the three spare towels that make it into the boot before we leave are going to have their work cut out for them.

I’ll give you the skinny on the most important stats for a vehicle of this type up front; its luggage capacity. With the third row stowed, you have 700-litres of cargo space to play with, or a van-like 1775-litres with the middle row lying flat as well. Access to both the boot in general and into seats six and seven in the third row is very good, and the latter are easy to deploy or tuck away. The premium-look trim used throughout the Tarraco’s cabin is extended to the third row as well; nothing feels like an afterthought here.

So, the Tarraco certainly fits the bill when it comes to necessary dimensions. But decent load-space only remains truly practical if you have a decent amount of power with which to ferry everything about. Thankfully, the Tarraco isn’t on the subs bench here either.

The car in these pictures is the top-of-the-line Tarraco Xcellence 4Drive (that’s SEAT-speak for ‘four-wheel drive’), which arrives standard with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol capable of delivering 140kW peak power and 320Nm of torque. A combined fuel efficiency figure of 7.3-litres/100km means the biggest SEAT available is still cost-effective to run.

A second engine option is shared between the two other Tarraco models we Kiwis get; the front-wheel drive Tarraco Style and (non-4WD) Tarraco Xcellence both receive SEAT’s 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol (110kW/250Nm). While fuel economy remains lineball with the Xcellence 4Drive, the front-driver twins are fitted with a six-speed DSG automatic, while the top-shelf model gets a seven-speed DSG ‘box.

Also important for a vehicle of this size is its towing capacity. You never know when it’s going to be your turn to trailer that rugby club fundraiser barbeque to the next game, and the Tarraco I drove boasts a pretty impressive 2250kg braked two rating (2000kg for the front-wheel drive grades).

Up front in the cabin, the level of available tech is generous and includes a nice wide 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with a 10-speaker BeatsAudio sound system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone mirroring technology are standard, although a navigation system (handy for finding the entrance to an ‘away’ club on a busy Saturday morning) is included too. There are even USB charging ports in the rear so those stars of the future can watch ‘Greatest Tries’ compilations on YouTube for a bit of extra inspiration on the way to the game.

SEAT has arrived in the seven-seater market absolutely humming. There’s nothing to fault with the Tarraco, and its $47,900 + ORCs to $59,900 + ORCs price spread undercuts some of the competition too.

As for the junior club competition results this particular Saturday morning; one lost, one won and the proverbial games of two halves. But I certainly had the best SEAT in the house for both.

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